Posted by: hellonhairylegs | March 19, 2009

Just Call Me Ms. Buzzkill

Methinks we should be aware that something written on a piece of paper a few hundred years ago and still enforced in one country isn’t the arbiter of all that is right and true. Admittedly, the US Constitution is a fairly cool piece of paper but a better document to cite in internet arguments might be the The Declaration of Human Rights. Remember, humans do exist outside America.

Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 30.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Even this document has flaws, the male as default, the implied heteronormativity in Article 16:

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

(And I’ll let you interpret this post as you will, while I return to my readings on post-modernism *shudder*)

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Responses

  1. That document is seriously flawed. As you said, it is very heteronormative. If by ‘the family’ they mean ‘nuclear family,’ then I’d have to disagree that it is natural. If by ‘family’ they mean ‘tribe,’ then I’m more on board with it.

    I also had some problems with this: “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.”

    Well, it’s not that I disagree with it. I think it’s great, but maybe I’m misreading “right to change nationality” with “the target country has to accept you unconditionally,” because right now they don’t. There are so many conditions put on people who want to immigrate to another country, which all boil down to class, when you think about it. I speak English as a native language, and I have a college degree, yet I didn’t qualify to be permant resident in England when I took an online assessment. I DID get enough points for Canada’s immigration department, but only b/c I speak fluent French. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten enough points. And I surmise that people don’t just let you apply for citizenship unless you already live and/or work there as a permanent resident. But yet, if I were rich (financially indepent) or a business owner, they’d be falling all over themselves welcoming me to their country. And I’d be allowed to stay in a country if I married one of their men, but that’s gotta be the most ridiculous reason to let someone in your country.

    And the document doesn’t take the internet into consideration. All that freedom of expression is great, but that often gets translated to constantly putting one’s two cents in everywhere, online stalking and harassing, etc. Women have resorted to blocking their blogs, making new ones that are hidden from search engines, etc. b/c of men who won’t stop commenting b/c they think they know what’s wrong with feminism and they need to let you know all the time.

    I didn’t see anything about harassment in that document, although I only skimmed it.

  2. I agree! If the courts here (USA) can use a the piece of paper that is supposed to protect us to uphold a law that has taken rights away from people (Prop 8.. I’m Californian) then it’s not really the be all and end all for human rights.

  3. I am uninformed on this matter, but my initial response to article 16 was that it was cool — men and women are allowed to marry. That sounds just the same as saying that people are allowed to marry.

  4. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

    I’ve always read this as “men have the right to marry and women have the right to marry” without specification that it must be to a member of the opposite sex. I’ve always wondered why this isn’t used to force member states to legalise nonheterosexual marriage – because it says everyone can marry, not just everyone heterosexual. I suppose it depends on how you read it. Clearly I am in a minority. I wonder if this were pointed out to the UN, would they then say member states must offer gay marriage in order to fit in with the DOHR or would they amend the wording to make it clearly heterocentric?


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